The worst effects of the GFC didn't hit home with our poorest residents. Image by wwworks on flickr.

Stimulus a shelter from GFC storm

26 March 2013

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Peter Whiteford is a Professor in the Crawford School. He works on child poverty, family assistance policies, welfare reform, and other aspects of social policy, particularly ways of supporting the balance between work and family life. He has published extensively on various aspects of the Australian and New Zealand systems of income support. He teaches Social Policy, Society and Change (POGO8024) and Social Policy Analysis (POGO8025).

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Australian society saw out the storm of the Global Financial Crisis without its poorest residents getting poorer, partly thanks to well-targeted stimulus payments, according to a leading social researcher.

Professor Peter Whiteford of Crawford School says that while the world’s economic systems were going into meltdown following the collapse of Lehman Brothers, Australians were sheltered from the worst effects of the GFC. Additionally, a number of important social indicators showed barely any change during the crisis.

“Poverty among families with children did not change much during the GFC and even slightly declined,” says Whiteford.

“Overall, about as many families with children climbed out of poverty as fell into poverty in Australia during the GFC.”

He added that stimulus payments from the government – paid out to try and keep the economy on an even keel during the crisis – had hit the mark in reaching the country’s worst off.

“The stimulus payments were well-targeted to low-income families. The bottom 60 per cent of households with children received payments averaging $2,400 to $2,800 – roughly five times as much as the richest 10 per cent of the population, who received payments averaging $575.

“Stimulus payments had an impact in terms of reducing family poverty, but even without the stimulus, family poverty appeared to be falling.”

Whiteford, who was recently described by The Australian newspaper as Australia’s foremost expert on income distribution, will discuss his research undertaken with Gerry Redmond from Flinders University and Roger Patulny from the University of Wollongong looking at the impact of the stimulus payments at a government forum this week.


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